Devastating Experiences of War
“Here, Bullet” is a poem that attempt to bring out the picture of what happens during war. The poem is written by Brian Turner, who expresses was a soldier in the war at Iraq and writes the poem from his experience from the war. The poem communicates major themes such as death, blood, ghost, despair and fear among other. These themes can be generalized as the devastating effect of war. The film “the Hurt Locker”, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, also revolves around the war in Iraq. It features the star actor James (Jeremy Rinner) who is a bomb expert deployed in Iraq. The poem portrays the issue of wars with a somber mood as compared to the film Hunt Locker which addresses the issues of war as a daily pleasure.
“Here, Bullet” is witness poem where the speaker expresses his personal experiences as well as those of other soldiers and local Iraqis during the Iraq war. Most Americans enjoy peace, protection and stability and are usually oblivious of the sacrifices that some patriots have to make in order to guarantee these things. The poem by Brain Turner has collected images and tries to communicate the real scenes behind war that are rarely communicated in news. Statements such as; “Elsewhere a dying Soldier has "just enough blood / to cough up and drown in”, paints to as the ordeal that soldiers have to undergo during war.
One major theme that is the Turner brings out is the Theme of fear. The speaker contemplates death through a bullet and hence the title “here, bullet”. The poem begins that “If a body is what you want, / then is here is bone and gristle and fresh”. This tells us the fear that soldiers have to put up with knowing that their lives can come to a dramatic end at anytime. Through out the poem turner forces us to experience terror that soldiers on the ground experience during such wars. The poem gives accounts of terrific scenes such as; “you hear the RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) coming for you/ Not so the roadside bomb”. Such a statement indicates that during war soldiers are faced with expected and unexpected threats and have to always remain prepared for any of these. There are threats that you will see/ hear them coming (Rocket Propelled Grenade) while there are other you will not be aware of such as the roadside bombs. The film some how has the opposite effect.
Another major theme brought out by this poem is the feeling of despair brought about by war. Turner gives accounts of situation where soldiers and local appear to give to fates as situation overwhelms them. In the cover of his book Turner talks of a soldier who commits suicide when he could no longer hold the pressures brought about by this war. The opening statement “If a body is what you want, / then is here is bone and gristle and fresh” is a sign of resignation by the speaker who seem to leave his chances to fate. In another sentence the speakers seems to admit to what sounds like a death wish; “I dare you to finish what you started”. On the part of the local, turner narrates how when looking for enemies they encounter local women and children. It is this statement that turner uses "women with breasts swollen with milk" who is essentially "... dressing the dead, clothing them / as they wait in silence," that shows the state of desperation among the local Iraqis. “Here, Bullet” there many other lines in the poems that brings out the state of despair that is brought out by war. Unlike in the poem, the actors in the films seem pleased with the action at the ground.
Death and blood is another theme is clearly portrayed through this poem. Turner gives a disturbing picture of how many people, both soldiers and locals, lost their lives through the Iraqi war. Turner paints a picture of wide spread blood shed during the war through line such as these; “Elsewhere a dying Soldier has "just enough blood / to cough up and drown in”.
Turner also gives accounts of deaths as a result of the war and the grief that come with them. The poem expresses how dreams and experiences are shattered by these deaths brought about by wars. A line such as; In "Autopsy," a dead Soldier's heart is weighed by a mortuary affairs specialist who wonders how fast that heart once beat on the occasion of the Soldier's first kiss” show how moments are shattered by immediate deaths brought by wars. The poem also provides a clear description of the damaging effect that the war has on the Human body.The speaker describes that as the bullet strikes its target of a body, its crazed and determined speed “puncture[s]” that body of “heat and blood.”
The poem also brings out the theme of “the otherness” that exists during war situation. Despite both groups (the Iraqis and Soldiers) suffering from the effects of the war, each group view the other as one that deserve to suffer and that they are suffering innocently. Turner revisits some terrible paradoxes as in "The Al Harishma Weapons Market," where "an American death puts food on the table, / more cash than most men earn in an entire year." This shows how the spirit of the otherness exists during war. The value of human life is not respected just because you come from the other group. Individual mourn the dead of one in their “own” group while they celebrate the death of “the others”. Turner expresses his sentiment that no matter the war situation one should delight in taking another person life. Still, in "Sadiq," "no matter what adrenaline / feeds the muscle its courage,/ ... it should break your heart to kill."
To effectively communicate the themes of the poem, Turner has used various poetic techniques. One of them is personification. The statement “If a body is what you want, / then is here is bone and gristle and fresh” personify the bullet. The bullet is an object and can claim to want anything but in this poem the bullet is given human character. The human body is at the same time dehumanized to express the feeling that exists during war time. The first statement, the speaker refers to has own body as having gristle, a tissue that is usually present in animals and not humans. The speaker further personifies the bullet by his statements “Here is the adrenaline rush you crave”. The use of this style shows how weapons are assigned great importance during wars and human lives trivialized.
The speaker proceeds to challenge the bullet and take control of the situation; “And I dare you to finish / what you’ve started.” / here I complete the word you bring”. Through this statement the speaker shows how a soldier has to respond to the harsh situation at war in order to survive. “Here I complete the word you bring” is meant to mean that the speaker is ready to challenge the bullet using the same force that the bullet is coming with. The next line “my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have” show that the speaker has already been transformed by the war into a weapon, made of steel and no longer feels “I moan / the barrel’s cold esophagus.”
This film Hurt Locker director by Kathryn Bigelow exhibits sharp contrast to the poem “Here, Bullet” by Turner. The film seems to express pleasure in terms of war unlike the poem which attempt to bring out the devastating features of the war in Iraq. In the film James appear to deliberately invite trouble which is not the situation portrayed by the poem. According to the poem soldiers try as much as possible to avoid trouble and they do not delight themselves in war.
The film “the Hurt Locker” seems factious concerning the war in Iraq because in the film James seems to enjoy his time in the battle field. Going with the theme and the mood of the poem “Here, Bullet” the war situation at Iraq was far from what anyone could find appealing. The also seem to glorify the war and the art war through its scenes such as; the time sanborn was providing cover fire. This is in contrast with the theme of the poem “Here, Bullet” which communicates the negative impacts of war in specific reference to the war in Iraq. The poem expresses devastating effect wars have on every individual involved and bears minimal benefits to people.
The poem “Here, Bullet” is good piece of literature as it enlightens Americans on what transfers in the battle field. It provides information which would be difficult to obtain through other media since the speaker was writing from his own personal experiences. The poem frankly expresses the effect of war thorough themes such fear, death, blood, despair and otherness among others. On other hand the film “the Hurt Locker” expresses divergent feeling concerning wars and in particular the war in Iraq. Through this poem Americans also get to understand the heavy sacrifices that others have to pay in order for them to enjoy stability and protection. The poem expresses harsh realities in war and its undesirable impacts.
Kathryn Bigelow (Director), Jeremy Renner (Actor), The Hurt Locker, USA, Summit Entertainment (Studio) (2008)
Turner Brian (2005), “Here, Bullet”, (Book), 1 ed. USA, Alice James Books